The new Taylor Swift cover story in Rolling Stone is full of anecdotes that vividly deliver the State of Taylor ahead of her new, country-free album, 1989, due out October 27. She’s cautious to the extreme about potential leaks; of characters on HBO’s Girls, she considers herself the most like Shoshanna (though pal Lena Dunham said she’s closer to “Hannah, minus the horrid sexual behavior. Or Marnie, if she wasn’t an asshole”); she’ll give wads of cash away to strangers on their birthday. One song on 1989, titled “Bad Blood,” is about another female pop singer, but Swift emphasized to RS‘s Josh Eells that the dispute wasn’t over a boy. Swedish pop maestro Max Martin is still reportedly tinkering with the album, which also includes songs called “I Wish You Would,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” “Out of the Woods” and, in the most audacious link to reported ex-boyfriend Harry Styles from One Direction, “Style.”
All that said, for music listeners in general, the most revealing moment of the feature may be at the end, when Swift is described pulling up Kendrick Lamar‘s swaggering good kid, m.A.A.d. city track “Backseat Freestyle” on her phone. “You want to know a trick to immediately go from feeling victimized to feeling awesome?” she told Eells. “This is my go-to.” She also claimed to know all the lyrics. It’s a greater awareness of contemporary rap than might’ve been expected from Swift, particularly considering the criticism of racial stereotypes in her video for 1989 hit “Shake It Off,” but it’s also one of those artist-profile moments where an otherwise cloistered, elite figure comes across, if only for a moment, as something closer to Just… Like… Us.
Then again, it’s worth noting that one reason Lamar stands out is the way his songs, from breakout hit “Swimming Pools (Drank)” to his recent Flying Lotus collaboration, rarely offer a feeling of invincibility without also fretting about darker thoughts. When Swift told RS she worries that speakers, instead of just playing music, might also be listening? Lamar could probably relate.